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Pelvic Organ Prolapse
General Gynaecology 

Pelvic organ prolapse is a very common condition among mothers. It is also known as pelvic floor prolapse. In Australia, it is reported that over half of all women who have had a child have some level of prolapse.

What it is

The pelvic organs- bladder, uterus, large intestine and rectum are held in their right place by tissues known as fascia and ligaments. They are then supported below by a sling of muscles called the pelvic floor muscles. 

Pelvic organ prolapse results when the tissues (fascia and ligaments) are torn or stretched, and your pelvic muscles are weak that they cannot hold your organs in their right place. Thus, when pelvic organs begin to bulge down through the vagina or rectum, there is a prolapse.

There are different types of prolapse. There can be uterine prolapse where the uterus drops down into the vagina. Also, pelvic organs may bulge into the anterior wall of the vagina (cystocele) or through the posterior vaginal wall (rectocele or enterocele).

Causes

The main cause of prolapse is pregnancy and childbirth. During vaginal delivery, the baby can stretch and tear supporting tissues and the pelvic floor muscles.  Your risk for a prolapse increases with more vaginal births.

Other causes include lifting heavy weights, constipation and persistent coughing (due to respiratory conditions).

Risk factors include family history, menopause, obesity or being overweight, constipation and previous history of surgery (prolapse repair, hysterectomy).

Symptoms

Signs depend on what type and level of prolapse. At first, affected women do not usually notice signs. However, they may notice the following as time goes on:

  • Feeling something heavy or dragging in the vagina
  • Something like a lump in the vagina
  • Seeing or feeling a lump bulging out of your vagina 
  • Feeling pain during sex 
  • Inability to enjoy sex
  • Difficulty in emptying your bladder completely
  • Recurring urinary tract infection
  • Difficulty emptying your bowel
  • Leaking urine into your pants

 

Treatment

  • Non-surgical options include:
  • Lifestyle modifications including dietary changes, fluid intake, exercise and weight loss, developing good bladder and bowel habits.
  • Pessaries- a plastic or rubber device that fits into your vagina to give internal support.
  • Surgical options: surgery can be done to repair stretched or torn tissues and muscles. Approaches could be:
  • Abdominal
  • Vaginal
  • Laparoscopic
  • robotic

You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.

This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.

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